Under Exam Conditions

Posted 19 April 2022

After two years of cancellations due to COVID, students will once again sit exams again this year. Now we know grades aren’t everything, but for some teens during a few weeks in May and June, they will feel like the world. So as that season dawns, if you currently have a student in your home, how can you help them cope under exam conditions?

Acknowledging the past two years of interrupted learning, the Department for Education have announced various measures to help make this summer’s exams fair for all students. These include giving advance information on the focus of an exam, options for assessment and providing formulae/equation sheets. For foster children though, it probably won’t only be two years of disrupted learning they have faced, but a disrupted home life too. Combine the two and you could have one very stressed and anxious child in your care. Even if they are too cool to admit it.

New signs of stress to watch out for as revision time starts are things like your teen worrying more and sleeping less than usual. They may have headaches or stomach pains, be (extra) irritable and no longer enjoy activities they previously did. A negative or low mood and changes in eating habits can also be indicators that they are feeling the pressure.

Whilst exams and a certain level of stress remain a necessary part of student life, we can at least affect how much of this stress teens in our care feel and how they face the exam season. Or we can jolly well try, at least. It’s all about the 3 R’s...

REVISE – Revision can seem overwhelming. Try sitting down with your child and helping them create a revision timetable so the big task becomes lots of little, more manageable ones. This should help them stay on track and let you both know what should be happening. BBC Bitesize has lots of great revision resources to get you started. Try to schedule family commitments around study time and remember that while some people need silence to concentrate, others need music or even a TV on.

RE-ENERGISE – To help your teen de-stress and stay healthy during exam season, make sure they get regular breaks to do something normal and enjoyable. Gaming sessions, TikTok videos and figure skating are all great ways to unwind and forget everything for a bit. Fresh air and exercise are brilliant for our mental health too, so encourage your child to get outside. Oh and let them off their chores for a few weeks!

REWARD – No, not cash for grades. We’re thinking more along the lines of planning a few treats along the way to encourage and de-stress. Anything from their favourite meal to a fortnight in Florida counts. But probably a bag of Haribo will suffice.

Most importantly, let your child know they can always talk to you and that you will love them regardless of their grades! In turn, you can always contact us if you want to talk anything through. We’re here for you and your foster child as you live under exam conditions. With or without Haribo.